I remember when I was a resident at Covenant College and students were given home management training; the best aspect of that was baking bread - I loved it.
We would start preparations on Thursday evening, work through the night and go to bed around 4 in the morning with the smell of delicious bread wafting through the whole College complex. The process for making bread is interesting and can shed some light on the whole idea of making vision work. The first step in making bread is to prepare the flour mixture - that is, adding margarine and salt to the flour, and thoroughly mixing them together to get a good consistency. The next step is to prepare the yeast - this is a key ingredient in making great bread. You measure out the required amount of yeast for the bread mixture, add a bit of sugar and dissolve in lukewarm water. This is then poured into the flour mix and kneaded thoroughly. The dough is then left to rest in a warm place. In this warm environment the yeast begins to ferment the whole dough and causes it to rise. When the yeast has worked to its maximum the bread dough is formed into a loaf shape and placed into a hot oven to bake for a specific period of time. What comes out of the oven is well formed and delicious bread. At least that is my experience.
Let’s just say that the flour mixture represents the community of believers; the yeast mixture represents the vision for the people. In the same way that the flour mixture has to be prepared before it can receive the yeast, so the lives of the people must be prepared to receive the vision. This can be done in all kinds of ways. Here’s just one: a group of young people passionate about youth work meet together at KFC and thrash out ideas on a ‘Drop-in’. These ideas are forwarded to youth leaders who have further discussions with the young people. These young people know that many of their ideas will go towards shaping the future vision of the congregation’s youth work.
As yeast works into the dough radically affecting it, so vision must get into the lives of our people, radically affecting them.
Vision that works is not merely an exercise in communicating what our intentions are for the coming year or two; it’s not even about getting people excited about it. To use a different metaphor, it must include preparing the ground in which it is to be planted in order for it to germinate and grow. It must be woven into the fabric of our life, becoming part of our lives. When this is done the vision takes on a creative energy - things start to happen!
Leaders receive vision by faith, they deliver it by faith, and the people receive it in faith. However, for the vision to work we all must go beyond having ‘faith’ that this is what Yahweh wants us to be and where he wants us to go - vision must have a ‘works’ element to it. What does the apostle James say? ‘Faith without corresponding works is useless. It’s like having a body with no spirit’ (my paraphrase). Vision that really works requires ‘faith’ and ‘action’.
Faith makes invisible things visible, absent things present, and things that are very far off to be very near the soul
Faith and works are like the light and heat of a candle; they cannot be separated
Faith without works is like a bird without wings; though she may hop with her companions on earth, yet she will never fly with them to heaven
JAMES 2:20-26 (HCSB)
20 Foolish man! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless? 21 Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was perfected. 23 So the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed [Yahweh], and it was credited to him for righteousness, and he was called [Yahweh’s] friend. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by a different route? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
Dear Father, thank you for filling my heart and the hearts of other leaders with wonderful, lofty ideas for the establishment of your kingdom in our area. We’re excited about it! We thank you for the faith that has been released among the people as we have shared the vision and continue to talk about it. Now Father, may it permeate their lives; please help all of us (leaders as well as members) to take up the tools that we have and begin to work towards the accomplishment of that vision. We realise that faith alone will not achieve anything of what we have glimpsed, but we must act, we must work. May our works be evidence that our faith is alive and not dead!